Allie Towers Rice
The tree-lined streets with old Victorian houses and up-scale shops and boutiques in the Northwest Portland neighborhood is one of the city's most walkable and bikeable. You can easily walk to shops, restaurants, food stores, hair salons and other service businesses. Mass transit can get you to other parts of the city in good time.
Most commercial activity is located on NW 23rd Avenue. US News & World Report called it "One of America's Best Shopping Streets." This is just a good place to be if you are tired of mall shopping and want to find something that is a little or even alot different from what they offer.
The Northwest District, also known as the Alphabet District because the street names run in alphabetical order, borders some of Portland's best parks. Within minutes you can be in Forest Park which is eight miles long and is an urban forest reserve with both second growth and old growth trees. There are 70 miles of trails to enjoy both hiking and biking. Some trails are open for horseback riding.
The Pittock Mansion sits above this neighbourhood and can be reached by foot on MacCleay Trail. The trailhead begins in MacCleay Park. You can tour the mansion and gardens and from there get a fantastic view of Portland with Mt. Hood in the background.
Wallace Park is a wonderful playground for the whole family including dogs. There is a kids playground, basketball court, soccer field, baseball diamond, picnic shelter, and a fenced area for dogs to run free. Paths are paved and most areas including restrooms have disabled access.
Here are some of the unique shops and stores you will find in the Alphabet District as well as some well-known chains.
Sloan Boutique carries well-known and not so well-known brands of women's clothing, shoes, and accessories. No matter whether you are looking for a new outfit for work or play, you will find the staff at Sloan's friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful.
Goorin Bros. is a friendly neighborhood hat shop. This company has been making hats for men and women since 1895. You will find styles for everyday and special occassions in every shape you can imagine. They even have fascinators.
Restoration Hardware has everything you need if you have a vintage home: door knobs, hinges, knockers, drapes, lamps, furniture and more. They also have outdoor furniture, bed linens, bath linens, nursery furnishings, and items for the playroom.
Be prepared to spend some time in Three Monkeys. You will find affordable women's clothing and accessories. But wait, there's more. At Three More Monkeys you will find accessories for your home like you have never seen before. Makes it easy to add personality to both your body and your home.
St. Honore Boulangerie is a traditional French bakery that produces traditional breads baked in a clay firebrick oven. Chef/Owner Dominique Geulin learned his trade in his family's bakery in Normandy, France. Pastries such as Tarte Abricot Amande, Normandy Apple Toast, and Tarte Aux Pommes with a cup of coffee will start your morning off right before you go shopping. Later you can stop back in for a bowl of homemade soup or a sandwich and top that off with a dessert of Strawberry Millefeuille or Chocolate Raspberry Delice.
At Elephants Delicatessen you can choose Buffalo Chicken, Bistro Sliders, Mahi Mahi Fish & Chips among other dishes from the grill. Or if you are hungry for pizza try one baked in their wood-fired oven with homemade pizza dough. Or you could have a cheese board with house baked bread. If you want to go on a picnic choose one of their grab and go sandwiches. They have a full-service bar, wine by the glass, and beer on tap. Enjoy your meal outside on the patio. Believe it or not, they have their own free parking lot for use while you dine.
Vivace Coffee House and Creperie is the place to go for a sweet or savoury crepe to die for. The crepe with nutella, toasted almonds, whipped cream, bananas, and strawberries is very popular. You can also get your favorite espresso or try a white or dark chocolate cocoa. In good weather there are tables outside.
Small, sophisticated, classy, are words used to describe Sterling Coffee Roasters. They have been rated as the best coffee house in Portland and better than what you can find in San Francisco or New York City. They roast their coffee beans in small batches and you may find a different selection from day to day.
Tables are covered with white table cloths and are decorated with fresh flowers. During the colder, rainy time of the year you may not find a seat inside this tiny little shop -- they only have six seats. You will probably want to get your coffee to go. But in the warmer months there are seats outside. Oh, and there's no WiFi. People go here for the coffee. Try their Blendo Stupendo. It tastes like cocoa and caramel.
In Northwest Portland you can get your ice cream fix at Salt and Straw on NW 23rd. Kim and Tyler Malek offer homemade, all-natural, and unique flavors such as Double Fold Singing Dog Vanilla, Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache, and Coffee and Bourbon. Did you know you can order ice cream online? You can order scrumptious ice cream from Salt and Straw here.
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